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Football Outsiders thinks the Broncos are not a very good football team

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Football Outsiders views the Denver Broncos are a sub-.500 team heading into the 2018 regular season.

Casey Barrett

Each year, we’re able to get some insight from the people at Football Outsiders on the Denver Broncos. This year we drew Mike Tanier who answered a few questions Mile High Report had for them.

Be sure to check out their 2018 Almanac for some really great in-depth analysis of the Broncos heading into the regular season.

1. What should Broncos fans expect out of Case Keenum in 2018?

We have Keenum projected for 3,893 yards, 23 touchdowns and 7 interceptions for 2018 in the Almanac; those numbers are pretty close to his Vikings stats in 2017. I think the first thing fans will notice is baseline professionalism at quarterback, which the team lacked last year and which will go a long way toward stabilizing the offense and letting the defense do its thing. Keenum is getting the Saint Case treatment in the early days of camp because he can read defenses properly, throw fairly accurately and stand in the pocket without soiling himself. I’m curious about what will happen when the Broncos need more from him than that.

Those are some monster projections from FO on Keenum. If the Broncos get that kind of production from the offense, then it will translate into plenty of more wins than what they project on the season in my opinion.

2. What are your expectations for rookie Bradley Chubb?

The Broncos were an ideal landing place for Chubb, who is going to enjoy a lot of mismatches opposite Von Miller. I think Chubb can approach double-digit sacks in Denver, thanks to a combination of favorable matchups, rare double-teams and a few clean-up sacks. If Chubb had been drafted by (say) the Buccaneers and tasked with providing instant pass rush, I think he would have had a rough rookie season because of how raw he is.

As a matter of opinion, I would argue that Chubb isn’t all that raw as far as rookie pass rushers are concerned. He came out with some of the most advanced pass rush moves of any rookie in recent memory. Even so, most rookies on the edge do not come out instant superstars. Being opposite of Von Miller, is going to put Chubb in the best situation to excel early on.

3. Do you think Su’a Cravens can make a big impact on the Broncos defense?

The Cravens who left USC two years ago would have been an excellent fit in this system. I’m just reluctant to project a player with Cravens’ injury history, coming back from a year away from the game, to make a big impact. At least until he gets through some padded practices and preseason games.

That is the biggest question on everyone’s mind. What kind of player is Cravens going to be after a year out of football? He has been nursing a knee the last few weeks, so we have not yet seen how he’ll fit in with the Broncos defense. Through two preseason games, that defense has continued to struggle covering tight ends and running backs which has been its Achilles hell for several seasons so far.

His role figures to be limited to those dime linebacker situations, which is exactly where the improvement is needed in 2018.

4. According to the numbers, Denver’s pass defense dropped off last year. Was that more a function of pass rush, or coverage holes?

The biggest dropoffs for the Broncos defense -- which was still very good last year, were in defending 3rd-4th receivers (30th in the NFL) and tight ends (31st) in the passing game. Depth at safety and coverage ability at linebacker were part of the problems. But I really think the Broncos defense was on the field too long in too many impossible situations. Opponents got chance after chance, with favorable field position, to attack the Broncos defense, and they aimed at the softest spots.

Here, Mike is spot on and a clear concern for the Broncos defense through two preseason games as well. Tramaine Brock and Issac Yiadom have had up and down performances covering those third and fourth receivers and the absence of Cravens has led to some big plays from tight ends.

However, the addition of Keenum and improved overall offense play should help the defense get out of those unfavorable field position spots they faced many times last season.

5. Do you think the Broncos make the playoffs in 2018?

No. I feel like the offense made enough improvements to add about 2 wins, maybe even three, but the defense lost about a win through trades-free agency-retirement over the last two years. It adds up to a .500-ish season, which is troubling because there are a lot of veterans in key positions, making it hard to see the long-term plan in Denver.

This projection is hard to reconcile with Football Outsiders’ projected stats from Keenum and the offense. I think the improvement in scoring and turnover proficiency from the bottom of the league to the top half of the league will lead to more than just two wins.

I see this team winning at least nine games with its easier schedule and could push for the division title in a weak AFC West. Now are they championship contenders? I’m not so sure.

Poll

How many games will the Broncos win in 2018?

This poll is closed

  • 13%
    Less than 8
    (782 votes)
  • 16%
    8
    (987 votes)
  • 35%
    9
    (2088 votes)
  • 33%
    10+
    (1971 votes)
5828 votes total Vote Now